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Permaculture (permanent agriculture) is the conscious design and 
maintenance of agriculturally productive ecosystems which have the 
. ' diversity, stability, and resilience of natural ecosystems. It is the 

energy, shelter, and other material and non-material needs in a' 

I I ' •. Permaculture design is a system of assembling conceptual, material, 

f • / *"** 8lK, tegic components in a pattern which functions to benefit life in 

-!' ' allltsforms. , , . 

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. than against, nature; of protracted and thoughtful observation rather 
than protracted and thoughtless action; of looking at systems in all their 
/ . functions, rather than asking only one yield of them; and of allowing 

/•-< I - systems to demonstrate their own evolutions. 

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Tweedie. A D. Water and the World, Thos Nelson 

(Aust) Ltd . 1975. 

(On the order of stream (low and stream pa .1 

Virbela Institute. Emerson College, Forest Row, East 
Sussex RH18 5)X (Flnvvform designs and research, 

Vogel. Steven. Life in Moving Fluids, Ihe Physical Biology 

of Flow, Willard Grant Press. Boston, 1981 

(A sensitive and scholarly study o( life forms in (low) 

Weyl, I lermann. Symmetry. Princeton University Press. 
N|. USA, 1983. 

New Scientist. New Science Publications. 
Commonwealth House, 1-19 New Oxford St London 

5 Oct 78 : On [misers and biological clocks 
15 Nov '84 : On the gravity anomalies In the geoid 
31 May '84 : The Robinson Congruence 

7 |un '84 : Recombination of DNA in a plus-torus 

20 Mar 79 The swirling of water 

14 Inn 79 : The spiral classification of galaues 

5 May '83 : Symmetry, geometry, fractals 

26 Apr '84 : Fractals 

S May '83 : Inversion and reflection of forms 

1 7 Nov '83 : On Impact craters 

21 Apr 77 : The great tennis ball of earth'' 

1 1 Oct '84 The pineal gland as a timepiece 
4 Apr '85 : Fractals, pulsars, black holes 



Read in pattern analysis, and study the relationships of 
ORDERS and FORMS in nature. Patterned systems 
must be of appropriate size, or of the right order (i.e 
note that small systems operate for things like Irosl 
protection and water conservation in crop) 

When designing gardens, ponds, or access ways, try 
to minimise waste space by using spiral, keyhole, and 
least-path systems, clumped plantings, and 
sophisticated interplants. 

Study and use edge effects, especially in relation to 
intercrop and in the construction of plant guilds, pond 
production, and fail safe species richness in variable 
climatic regimes 

Use appropriate patterns to direct energies on site, 
and to lay out the whole site for zone, sector, slope, and 
orientation benefits This approach alone creates Ihe 
most energy savings 


Chapter 4 


The curve described by Ihe earth as It turns Is a 
spiral, and Ihe pattern of Its moving about the 
sun... The solar system Itself being part of a 
spiral galaxy also descrllies a spiral In Its move 
ment... Even for the case of circular movement 
when one adds In the passage of lime, the total 
path Is a spiral... The myriad things are con 
stantly moving m a spiral pattern... and we live 
within that spiral movement. 

(Hiroshi Nakamura. from Spirulina: Food for « 
Hungry World. University of the Trees Press. P.O. 
Box 66, Boulder, California 95006. USA. ) 

The patterns and forms of a tree are found In 
many natural and evolved structures; an ex- 
plosion, event, erosion sequence. Idea, germln 
atlon. or rupture at an edge or Interface of two 
systems or media (here, earth and atmosphere) 
may generate the tree form In time and space. 
Many threads spiral together at the point of 
deformation of the surface and again disperse 
The tree form may be used as a general teaching 
model for geography, ecology, and evolution: It 
portrays the movement of energy and particles In 
time and space. Foetus and placenta: vertebrae 
and bones; vortices; mushrooms and trees; Ihe 
Internal organs of man; the phenomena of vol- 
canic and atom bomb explosions; erosion 
patterns of waves, rivers, and glaciers; com- 
munication nets: Industrial location nets: 
migration; genealogy; and perhaps the unlveise 
Itself are of the general tree form portrayed 

Simple or multiple pathways describe yln- 
yang. swastika. Infinity, and mandala symbols A 
torus of contained forces evolves with the 
energies or the pattern, like the doughnut of 
smoke that encircles the pillar of the atomic 

(BUI Mollison. Pcrmacullure One, 1978.) 


Everything the Power of the World does Is done in 
a circle ... The wind. In Us greatest power, whirls ... 
The life of a man Is a circle from childhood to 
childhood, and so is everything where power 
moves Our teepees were round like the nests or 
birds, and these were always set In a circle, the 
nation's hoop, a nest of many nests. . 
(Black 111', 



It is with some trepidation that I attempt a treatise on 
patterns Nevertheless, it must be attempted, for in 
patterning lies much of the ground skill and the future 
of design. Patterns are forms most people understand 
and remember They are as memorable and repealable 
as song, and of Ihe same nature. Patterns are all about 
us- waves, sand dunes, volcanic landscapes, trees, 
blocks of buildings, even animal behaviour. If we are to 
reach an understanding of Ihe basic, underlying 
patterns of natural phenomena, we will have evolved a 
powerful tool for design, and found a linking science 
applicable to many disciplines. For Ihe final act of the 
designer, once components have been assembled, is to 
make a sensible pattern assembly of the whole 
Appropriate patterning in the design process can assist 
the achievement of a sustainable yield from flows, 
growth forms, and timing or information flux 

Patterning is Ihe way we frame our designs, the 
template into which we fit Ihe information, entities, 
and objects assembled from observation, map overlays, 
the analytic divination of connections, and the selec- 
tion of specific materials and technologies. It is this 
patterning that permits our elements to flow and 
function in beneficial relationships The pattern u 
design, and design is the sub,ect of permaculture 


Beyond the rigour ol rhe simple Euclidean regu- 
larities beloved ol technologists and architects, there 
remains most (or all) of nature. Nature imperfectly 
round, never flat or square, linear only for infinitesimal 
distances, and stubbornly abnormal Nature flowing, 
crawling, flying, weeping, and in apparent disarray 
Nature beyond precise measurement, and 
comprehensible only as sensation and system 

Nothing we can observe is regular, partly because we 
ourselves are imperfect observers. We tell fortunes (or 
lose them) on the writhing of entrails or cathode ray 
graphics, on the scatters of dice or bones, or on arrays 
of measures. Are the readings of lea leaves any less 
reliable than the projections of pollsters? Regular 
things are those few that are mechanical or shaped 
(temporarily) by our own restricted world view; they 
soon become irregular as time erodes them Truth, like 
the world, changes in response to information. 

There are at least these worthwhile tasks to attempt: 

STANDING, both as attempts at forming more general 
pattern models, and as examples of natural 
phenomena that demonstrate such models. 

2 A LINKING DISCIPLINE that equally applies to 
geography, geology, music, art. astronomy, particle 
physics, economics, physiology, and technology. This 
linking discipline would apply to conscious design 
itself and to the Information flow and transfer 
processes that underlie all our disciplines. Such a 
unifying concept has great relevance to education, at 
every level from primary to post-graduate disciplines 

amples of how applied patterning achieves our desired 
ends in everyday life, where rote learning, linear 
thinking, or Euclidean geometry have all failed to aid 
us in formulating sustainable settle-ments It is in Ihe 
application ol harmonic patterns that we demonstrate 
our comprehension of the meaning of nature and lite 

Then? have been many books on the subject of sym- 
bols, patterns, growth, form, deformation, and 
symmetry. The authors often abandon the exercise 
short of devising general models, or just as a satis- 
lactory mathematical solution is evolved for one or 
more patterns, and almost always before attempting to 
create applied illustrations ol how their eflorts assist us 
in practic al life affairs Some are merely content to list 
examples, or to make catalogues of phenomena. Others 
pretend that meanings lie in pattern or number 
alone — that patterns are symbols of arcane knowledge, 
and they assert that only an unquestioned belief 
unlocks their powers. 

The simple pattern models figured herein are in- 
tended to be a useful adjunct to designers and 
educators They also illustrate how we can portray our 
thinking about life, landscapes, and the communality 
that is nature. Learning a master pattern is very like 
learning a principle; it may be applicable over a wide 
range of phenomena, some complex and some simple. 
As an abstraction, it assists us to gain meaning from 
life and landscape and to comprehend allied 


One can spend endless hours seeking further 
scientific, mystical, or topological insights into pattern 
The process is addictive, and I am as unwilling to 
abandon this chapter as I was to start it. but I trust that 
others, better equipped, will expand and further 
explain the basic concepts I believe that it is in 
sophisticated pattern application that the future of 
design lies, and where many solutions to intractable 
problems may be found. 

We have a good grasp on the behavioius of pattern 
in natural phenomena il we can explain the SHAPES of 
things (in terms of their general pattern outlines); the 
networks and BRANCHING of tributaries (gathering 
flows) and distributaries (dispersal flows); the 
PULSING and (low regulation within organisms or the 
elements of wind, water, and magma; and illuminate 

Further, if WAVE phenomena and STREAMLINES 
are contained within our pattern analysis, as real 
waves or as time pulses, these and their refraction and 
interference patterns form another set of pattern 
generators, responsible for coasts, clouds, winds, and 
turbulent or streamlined flow And, if we can show 
how (he pattern outlines of landscapes, skeletal parts, 
or flow phenomena fit together as MATRICES 
(interlocking sets), or arise from such matrices (e.g. 
whirlwinds from thermal cells), then we can generate 
whole landscape systems or complete organisms from 
a mosaic of such patterns 

In nature, events are ordered or spaced in discrete 
units. There are smaller and larger orders of events, 
and if we arrange like forms in their orders, we will hud 
clusters of measures at certain sizes, volumes, lengths, 
or other dimensions. This is true for river branches, 
social castes, settlement size, marsupials ol the same 
form, and arrays of dunes, planets, or galaxies. 

In Ihe following pages. I will try to include all this 
and to derive il from the basis of a single "simple" 
model (Figure 4.1). which, understood in all its parts, 
has each of these phenomena, and a great many mure 
subtle inferences, within it. Not all, or even many, of 
these shapes, symbols, symmetries, scatters, or forms 
will be individually described or figured here, hut the 
basic pattern parts will be briefly described and related 
to each other The basic model itsell is derived from a 
stylised tree lorm. 

We should not confuse the comprehension of FORM 
with the knowledge of SUBSTANCE— "Ihe map is not 
Ihe territory" — but an understanding of lorm gives us a 
better comprehension of function, and suggests 
appropriate strategies for design. 



When we look about us in the world, we see the hills, 


Birch, and Cobb.TTie Liberali'im of Life. Cambridge 
University Press, 1981. 

Bohm, Wliole ne ss and Implicate Order, Routledge and 
Kegan Paul, 1980 

Capra, Fntz.TTie Tan of Physics. Fontana Press, 1976. 

Cook, Sil Theodore Andrea, Die Curves of Life, 
Constable, London, 1914 (reprint) 

Escher. M. C. and J L. Locher, The World of M.C Esclitr, 
Harry N Abrams Inc. New York. 1971. 

Gould, J. el alia, Harmonic Vibrations and Vibration 
Figures, Newton & Co. London. 1909. 
(see also: Model Engineer 3 May 51, 8 Sep '60, llohhies 
Nov 1966; andNeiu Scientist 22/29 Dec '83). 

Illert, Christopher, Sea Shell Matlienialics, 
sell-published, 1984: 76 Seaview Rd., West Beach. 
South Australia 5024 

Lovelock, J. E.Gnia A New Loo* al Life on Earth, Oxford 
University Press, 1979. 

Leapfrogs, Cumrs, Tarqtiin Pubs. Stradbroke, Diss, 
Norfolk, U.K., 1985. 

Mandelbrot, Benoit. The fractal Cevmelry of Nature. 

Wll Freeman Co New York. 1982. 

(The basic book on fractals, computer graphics) 

Murchle, Greg, Tlir Seven Mysteries of Life, 1984, 
self-published: Marlborough, NH, USA. 

Pearce. Peter. Structure in Nature as « Strategy for Design, 
MIT Press. 1979 

Schwenke. Theodore, Sensitive Chaos; Ihe Creatum of 
Flowing Forms in Air or Water, Schocken Books, NY, 

Thompson, D'arcy W , On Growth and Form, Cambridge 

University Press, I9S2. 

(Multiple examples of forms in nature, spirals) 

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rivers, trees, clouds, animals, and land/orms generally 
as a set of shapes, apparently unrelated lo each other, 
at leasl as far as a common underlying pattern Is 
concerned. What do we see? We can list some of the 
visible forms as follows. 

• WAVES on water and -frozen" as ripples in dunes 
and sandstones, or fossilised quartziles and slates 

• STREAMLINES, as foam strips on water, and in 
streams themselves. 

• CLOUD FORMS in travertine (porous calcile from 
hot springs), tree crowns, and "puffy" clouds or as 
cloud streams. 

• SPIRALS in galaxies, sunflowers, the global 
circulation of air. whirlpools, and chains of islands in 

• LOBES, as at the edge of reefs, in lichens, and 
fringing the borders of salt pans. 

• BRANCHES, in Irees and streams converging or 
diverging; explosive shatter zones 

• SCATTERS of algae, tree clumps in swamps, 
islands, and lichens on rocks. 

• NETS as cracks in mud, honeycomb. Inside bird 
bones, in the columns of basalt (as viewed from above), 
and cells of rising and falling air on deserts. 

The NETS or cracks In mud and cooling lava are 
shrinkage patterns caused not by flow or growth, but 
by the lateral tension of drying or cooling, as are many 
patterns in iceflows and the cracked pattern of pottery, 
or the cracks in bark on trees. Thermal wind cells arise 
at the confluence of large heat cells on desert floors, 
forming a net pattern if viewed from above or below 

In all of these categories, I hope to show that one 
master pattern is applicable, and that even the bodies 
of animals are made up of bones, organs, and muscles 
of one or more of the forms above. I will link these 
phenomena— generated by growth and flow- into a 
single model form. That form is a stylised tree (Figure 
4.1). Around the central tree form of this model are 
arranged various cross-sections, plans, longitudinal 
sections, and streamline paths, all derived from real 
sections, paths, or projections of the tree. 

The evolution of such a form from an initial point in 
space-time, 1 call an EVENT. Such events can be 
abstract or palpable They have in common an origin 
(O). a phase of growth (T1-T6. an expression of their 
energy potential), decay, and dissolution into other 
events of a like or unlike form The event of a tree is at 
least three-dimensional, and must be thought of as 
extending into and out of a plane (P) However, many 
similar events such as migration patterns or glaciation 
can be as well portrayed (as they are seen in aerial 
photographs) as two-dimensional. 

The curvilinear STREAMLINES (S1-S9), are seen to 
curve or spiral through the Origin, just as (in fact) the 
phloem (storage cells) and xylem (sapbearing cells) 
spiral through the X-X' axis, or earth surface plane (P), 
of a real tree Not so easy to portray is the fad that the 
xylem is externa} to the stems and interna/ to the roots, 
and the phloem the reverse At a zone in the plane (P), 


therefore, these cells INTERWEAVE or cross over as 
they spiral out of or into the media. 

This deceptively simple "apple core" or tree shape, 
spiralling out of the plane (P) is a slow-moving vortex 
such as we see in tornadoes and whirlpools. Traffic 
through the streamlines is in both directions. In trees, 
sugars and photosynthetic products travel from crown 
lo root margin, and waler and minerals from roots to 
crown. Thus, each margin of our pattern is both 
collecting and distributing materials from different 
media. The tree trades both ways with elements of the 
media, and there is an active water and gaseous 
exchange with the media (Ml. M?). Two-way trade is 
llie normality of plants, organs, and natural forms 

As we know, a crosscut of a tree stem, the basis of the 
study of dendrochronology, reveals a target pattern of 
expanding growth (by which the tree adds bulk 
annually) and from which we can discover much about 
past occurrences of drought, seasonal changes, 
atmospheric compositon. fire, and wind (Figure 4.1-F). 
'Screw palms {Pandanus spp ) of the tropics develop 
ascending stem spirals, very reminiscent of fan turbine 
blades, and sunflowers create open seed spirals (in two 
directions), so common in many whorled plants The 
stem itself forces open an ever-expanding flow 
through the X-Y plane between the media, allowing 
more material to pass through as lime accumulates 
The evenl expands the initial rupture of the surface 
between the media, allowing greater flow lo take place, 
and this too is recorded in the target pattern of the 
stem, at the poinl of germination of the event (O) 





A sel of intersecting sine waves developed over a 
regular square or hexagonal matrix will set up a 
surface composed of our core model shapes ll down* 
matter if we see the sine waves as static or flowing, the 
core model will still maintain its shape, and flow in the 
system does not necessarily deform the pattern. Such a 
pattern matrix (Figure 4.2) shows that our models 
iMMllatf (Irom the Latin tesserae, meaning tiles) lo 
create whole surfaces. If landscapes are, in fact, a set of 
such models, they must be able to tessellale 

Convection cells on deserts arise from a roughly 
hexagonal matrix of air cells 1-5 km across, and 
matrices also underlie the spacing of trees in forests 

Glacial landscapes show whole series ol such 
patterns, as do regular river headwaters. We could 
equally well have created a matrix by adding In 
samples of our core pattern as we add tiles lo a floor 
Thus we see the Euclidean concept of points and lines 
underlies our curvilinear forms Even irregular models 
(Figure 4.3) tessellale Such tessellae are centred on 
nets or regular grids. 


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Ihe geneial coib model spiials out ol i plane P {between Iwo media 
Ml and M2) Several secllonsare given lo show some ol the model 
lorms (torn projections and secllons ol i single evenl (here, i ' tree'). 
In desecls.Such phenomena as nets have a basic matrix or spacing, 
as do whirlwinds in Ihe desert (a! the junction ol hexagonal cells), and 
events on the surlace ol Ihe sun 



dry sites for oil-rich herbs such as thyme, sage, and 
rosemary, and moist or shaded sites lor green foliage 
herbs such as mini, parsley, chives, and coriander. 

This is a rare three-dimensional earth construct on a 
small scale, and compactly coils up a linear path or bed 
of herbs into one mound at the kitchen door, thus 
making the herbs accessible and convenient to the 
kitchen itself. If kitchens are not at ground level, roof or 
balcony gardens can carry pot-herbs in stepped walls, 
on wall shelves, in window boxes, or as stacks of pots 
in earth mounds. 

Pattern analyses can also be applied lo water 
conservation For example, a mulch-pit (60 cm wide 
and deep), surrounded by a planting shelf and spill 
bank totalling 1.2 m (4 feel) across has a 3 8 m (12 foot) 
perimeter, but can be efficiently watered with one 
low-pressure sprinkler, whereas a 3.8 m straight row 
takes three such sprinklers 

Another advantage Is Ihe central (one-drop) mulch 
pit. so that the plants eventually overshade Ihe centre 
lo prevent evaporation Such circle-mulch- grow pits 
are made 1.8 m (6 feel) across for bananas, and 1.8-3 m 
(6-10 feet) across for coconuts; all out- produce row 
crop for about one-third of Ihe water use. A series or 
set of such gardens greally reduce the path space and 
land area needed for home gardens, or orchards of 
banana and coconut (Figures 4.31 and 10.26) 

A field application of patterned ground designed to 
direct flow, and capture materials in flow, is that of 
flood plain embankments or tree lines (poplar, willow, 
tamarack), or both combined. These are very effective 
pattern impositions on landscape (although all occur 
naturally as rock dykes or resistant rock strata in the 
field) that can have several beneficial effects for a 
household or settlement nearby (Figure 4 J2) 

A more conscious and portable applied pattern set is 
thai of the "Flowform" models being developed at the 
Virbella Institute by a small group of artist- 
technicians. Such turbulence basins are apparent in 
nature as shaped basins in streams flowing over 
massive sandstones or mudstone rocks. They are even 
In antiquity modelled in poizelanic cement by Roman 
hydrologists Flowforms are artificial replicates of the 
rock forms carved by turbulent streams, cast in 
concrete or fibreglass (Figure 4.33). 

Stacked in sets below sewage pipe outfalls or above 
fish ponds at pipe inlets, Ihey efficiently mix air and 
water by inducing turbulence in flow Three distinct 
mixing effects are noticeable; the first a plunge or 
vertical overturn as fluid drops from one basin to an 
other. Ihe second as a figure-8 or lateral flow around 
Ihe basins themselves; and Ihe third (a fascinating 
process) as an interaction between these two. as water 
coursing around the basins deflects Ihe vertical drop 
flow and switches it from side lo side in * reeular 
rhythm. " 

Within these major turbulence patterns (so clearly 
portrayed by da Vinci (I'opham, A.E.. The Otawmgs of 
Leonardo da Vinci, Jonathan Cape. London. 1946) and 
further analysed in terms of computer models and 


catastrophic theory by Chappell (in Land/orm 
Evolution in Australia. ANU Press, Canberra 1978) for 
coastal uprush and backwash turbulence] are distinct 
vortices and counlerflow, overfolds and cusps thai 
further mix air and water at Ihe edges of the basins and 
in the main flow stream. 

Thus, artificial Flowform basins induce aeration, 
oxidise pollutants, and are themselves aesthetically 
pleasing and instructive hydrological paltem-modcls 
of naturally-occuring constructs. They have practical 
use in the primary treatment of sewage and organ- 
ically polluted waters, and in Ihe oxygenation of ponds 
for aquatic species production. Models of this type are 
the result of a long evolution beginning with wonder, 
sketches, analysis, observations, and then proceeding 
via constructed hydrological basins lo practical 
applications over a wide variety of sites. In nature and 
in Ihe Flowform system, the basins can be elongate, 
truncate, symmetrical, asymrnetical. stepped in line, 
slacked like ladders, or spiralled lo conserve space 



Alexander. Christopher el at, A Pattern Language. 

Oxford University Press, 1977. 

(Instances successful design strategies lor towns. 


Basrom. Willard. Waves and Beaches. Aruhoi Books, 
New York, 1980. 


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FIGURE 4.31 


Sta iSJtt "" a, ,'- m, "" ll "l •*«* "* Mt ft * spiinlde,, , 
savmo ol 60% In water use Such systems apply only on fee smalt 
scale, where plan.s can shade Ihe toZ#£. W ' * S ™" 

tribal art is a public and ever -renewed mnemonic, or 
memory-aid Apparently simple spiral or linear 
designs can combine thousands ol bits of information 
in a single, deceptively simple pattern. The decorative 
function is incidental to the educational and therefore 
sacred Information function in sucli patterns. "Decor- 
ation'' is the trivial aspect of such art. 

Much of modern art is individualistic and 
decorative, some "motif art is plagiarised from ancient 
origins, but no longer has an educational or sacred 
function. Entertainment and decoration is a valid and 
important function of the arts, but it is a minor or 
incidental function Social comment is a common art 
form in theatre and song, and spirited dances and 
songs are cheeiing or uplifting But I know of no 
meaningful songs or patterns in my own "mono- 
culture", based as It is on the jingles of advertisements 
and purely decorative and trivial patterns of art, and 
on education divorced from relevant long-term 
observations of the natural world. 

The induction of moods and the record of ephemera 
are not the primary purposes of sacred or tribal art. 
which is carefully assembled to assist the folk records 
of the function and history of their society. Some 
modern sculptural forms, such as the "Fluwform" 
systems of Ihe Virbclla Institute, Emerson College, 
Kent. UK (Figure 4.33) are modelled on older Roman 
water cascades, and serve both an aesthetic and a 
waler-oxygenalion function, assisting water 
purification. This is a small step towards applied art as 
patterning in everyday us*, as are some engineering 
designs We could well reintroduce or evolve pattern 
education, which gives every member of society access 
to profound concepts or specific knowledge. 

Art belongs lo, and relates to, people. It is not a way 
to waste energy on resources lor the few. Sacred calen- 
dars melted down to bullion or objets d'art are a 
degradation of generations of human effort ami know 
ledge, and Ihe sacred art of tribal peoples hidden in 
museum storerooms are a form of cultural genocide, 
removing knowledge from its context, and trivialising 
objects to decorations or loot. 

Human information, as a tribal arl form, is most 
frequently debased and destroyed less for monetary 
gain than for the replacement ol puMr'c information by 
an exotic, secretive, Irrelevant and basically un- 
informed centralised belief system. The fanatic cares 
not what is destroyed if it empowers the repressive 
hierarchy thai is then imposed. Most tribal art has been 
burnt, looted, destroyed, and broken by invading belief 
systems, destroyed by those seeking secret power 
rather than open knowledge, or by those who arc 
merely destructive. Book-burning and image- 
breaking is the reaction of the alienated or intellectu- 
ally-deprived lo the accumulated wisdom of its 
revelalionary ancestors. We most damage ourselves 
when we destroy information and aids lo under- 

It is a challenge to artists to study and portray 
knowledge in a compact, memorable, and trans- 

missible lorm, to research and recreate lor common use 
those surviving arl lorms which still retain their 
meaning, and to re-mlegrate such art with science and 
with society and its functions and needs. It is a 
challenge to educators to revive the meaningful 
geometries, songs, and dances thai gave us, and our 
work, meaning 



A sophisticated application of pattern is found in the 
herb spnal (Figure 4.30) which I evolved in 1978 as a 
kitchen-door design All the basic culinary herbs can 
be planted in an ascending spiral of earth on a 2 m 
wide base, ascending lo 1 or 1.3 m high. All herbs 
planted on Ihe spiral ramp are accessible The construct 
itself gives variable aspects and drainage, with sunny 


FIGURE 4. 2 


Underlying many natural distributions (eg Irtes in i desert heal or 

convection cells) »nd loimng many patterns (such as honeycomb and 

The "growlh lines" (T-series) ol our models are, in 
effect, a series of smaller and smaller forms nested 
wilhin Ihe larger boundaries, as is the case with target 
patterns or tree cross-sections The process is termed 
annidation (Latin nidus, a nest) and is used in practice 
to compactly store bowls or glasses, one wilhin Ihe 
other; it then becomes a strategy for fitting-in like 
components of Ihe same or different site in a compact 

If we superimpose two spirals of the opposite sense 
(spirals twisting m Ihe opposite way), we develop the 
petal patterns ol flowers and Ihe whorls of leaves so 
common In vegetation, well illustrated by Ihe seed 
patterns of sunflowers The effect is also reproduced by 
simple reflection of such curves 

Thus we see that tessellation, annidation. or 
superimposition gives us a strategy set for developing 
complex and compact entities, or for analysing 
complex landscapes As Yeomans' 5 ' points out, ridges 
and valleys in landscape are identical reflections. If we 
model a landscape and pour plaster of Paris on the 
model, we reproduce the landscape in a reversed 
piaster model, but now the ridges are valleys 

Further, a set of our models invading into or 
generating from a portion of the landscape produce 
EXPANSION and CONTRACTION forms (Figure 4.4) 


cricks m mud) are matrices or grids based on appronimale squares, 
heurjuns. or intersecting sine waves 

typical of Ihe edges of inland dunes and sail pans. This 
crenellated (wavy) edge produces edge harmonics ol 
great relevance to design. 

The study of matrices reveals lliat the T (lime) lines 
are ogives of a tessellated model and develop from the 
-S- (stream) lines of the next model adjoining. We then 
come lo understand something of the co-definitions in 
our core model, and lis inter dependent properties. Sets 
ol such models and their marginal crenellalions provide 
a complex Interface in natural systems, often rich in 
production potential. 

The earth itself is "a great ball" (New Scientist. 
21 April 77) formed of two core model forms This 
earth pattern (Figure 4.5) of two nested core models can 
be re-assembled into a single continent and one sea il 
the present globe is shrunk to 80% of its present 
diameter My old geology professor. Warren ("Sam") 
Carey may have been justified in his 1956 assertion that 
the earth was originally Dial much smaller. When 
re-asse.nbled in this way. the globe shows an origin 
("O" of our model) over each pole; Ihe north polar 
origin Is that of the seas, the antarctic origin that of the 
continents At that lime in earth history, all life forms 
were native to a single continent and all fish swam in 
one sea. 
The pattern has been shattered by a total expansion of 



The general model In bolh regular and irregular loim wHI lessellale or 

link together lo torm closed surfaces, spherej, or chains 



Repetitive patterning due lo wind. sand, and rare heavy rains, Is typical 

ol deserts; this series ol lunulale lagoons occurs In South Australia 

Longitudinal dunes become ciescenllc liansverse dunes due lo waler 


the globe or by the spreading of oceanic plates cracking 
the continents apart rather like the nel patterns on a 
mud patch, and isolating species (or their present 
endemic development The whole story is being slowly 
assembled by generations of biologists (Wallace, 
Darwin), geologists, and technicians analysing data 
from satellite surveys of the globe. 

The original pattern shattered, continents now drift, 
collide, and form their own life pattern by isolation, 
recombination, and (he slow migration of natural 
processes. The process also illustrates how Irregularities 
may arise on an expansion of a previously regular 
matrix of forms; tension caused by expanding 
phenomena shatters the smooth flow ol primary global 
events. At the end o( a certain energy sequence, old 
patterns shatter or erode to make way for new patterns 
and succeeding forms of energy, as a decaying tree 
gives life to fungi and to other trees. 



Media, as a result of their chemistry, physical 
properties, or abstract characteristics, can be identified 
by us because they differ from each other. We 
distinguish not only air, water, earth, and stone but also 
hot, cold, salty, acid, and even some areas of knowledge 
as having different properties or validity Every such 

essential core, but we also see the drift from such 
nature-based and essentially universal systems 
towards personalised or humanoid gods, dogma, and 
fanaticism, and to symbols without meaning or use in 
our lives, or lo our understanding of life. Many other 
world concepts based on the analogies of rainbows, 
serpents, and song cycles relate to aspects of the 
integrated world view, and are found in Amerindian 
and Australian tribal cultures 



We can pattern the behavior of human and other social 
animals lo represent aspects of their society. A set of 
such patterns, derived from studies I and my students 
made in Tasmania from 1969 to 1974 are illustrated in 
Figure 4.29 The central pattern represents the orders 
or castes of occupational level (status) in its long axis 
There are seldom more than seven major occupational 
levels even in such rigorously stratified hierarchies as 
the army. The width of the Figure 4.29 represents the 
numbers of people at each level, and for this 
configuration we summed the numbers of people in 
several organisations (to sample some 35,000 people), 
including the local army, a multinational company, 
some churches and many small businesses. 

Within the general "boat" pattern form so evolved, I 
have marked some arrows lo represent genetic 
streaming (by marriage or sexual congress); important 
classes of occupation are: 

Characteristics are a general dearth of material 
resources, low status, part-time occupations, and a 
remarkable preponderance of male births and survived 
male children (about 140 males per 100 females) Large 
families. Serial polyandry is common or acceptable. 


Adequate resources, nine-to-five jobs, some job tenure, 
and a "normal" birth ratio of 104 males per 100 fe- 
males Mixed white collar and skilled technical 
workers, average family sizes Monogamy is an ideal, 
but is often expressed as serial monogamy 


Few people, extensive resources, flexible and often 
self-set limes, and a high proportion of female children 
(about 100 females to 70 males or less), urban 
professionals or managers would typify the group 
Small families, effective polygyny via concubines oi 


Executive directors and landed nobility Variable 
family sizes but a preponderance of female children (as 
per 3. above), and a habit ol lateral intermarriage for 
economic alliances, facilitated by exclusive schools and 


The imbalance of the sex ratios in these strata 
ensures a genetic turnover or diffusion between 
classes; a streaming of genetic materials between levels 
over generations. 



Art, in the forms of song, dance, and sculptural or 
painted objects, or designs, is an ancient preoccupation 
of all peoples. There is little doubt that most (if not all) 
tribal art is intended for quite specific ends; much ol 

«*ia« cfPtoPiA 
FIGURE 4.29 


The lorm ol social hierachy based on occupational status Note Hie 
over production ol males (as a primary s«> ratio) at the lower lesource 
level, thus marital habits are based on lesources and sex ratios Wldlh 
indicates number ol people al eacri level (n . 35,000 Tasmania 

FuU MOON SHKVO*J*T "Minimum 

Fuu- moon SHapoiv'AT 
•|*iqMiiM'fUSWG PONT 

oat by nmtr 5u*> 

embody advanced knowledge are the most intuitive, 
ami therefore most entitled lo special veneration Such 
knowledge is almost invariably based on pattern 
understanding, and is independent of sex or even age, 
so thai one is "aged" by degree of revelation, not time 
spent in living (there are some very unrevealed "elders" 
in thl world!) 



Buddhists remind themselves of the pattern of events 
with Iheir oft-repealed chant "Om mani padme hum"; 
pronounced "Aum ma-ni pay-may hung" by Tibetans 
and Nepalese. and meaning 

Om: the jewel in the lotus : hum 

om -ma til ■ pay • may • hung 

As Peter Matlhiessen explains it {The SrKKB Ltopard, 
Picador. 1980) 

Aum (signing on) is the awakening or beginning 
harmonic, the sound of all stillness and the sounds of 
all time, it is the fundamental harmonic that recalls lo 
us the universe itself 

Ma-ni: The unchanging essence or diamantine core 
of all phenomena; the truth, represented as a dia- 
mond, jewel, or thunderbolt. It is sometimes repre- 
sented in paintings as a blue orb or a radiant jewel, and 
sometimes as a source of lightning or fire. 

Pay-may. "Enfolded in the lieart of the lotus" (mam 
enfolded). The visible and everyday unfolding of 
events, petals, or patterns thus revealing the essential 
unchanged core (mani) to our understanding The core 
itself, or the realisation of it, is nirvana (the ideal state 
of Buddhism). The lotus represents the implicate order 
of tessellated and annidated events, and the process of 
unfolding the passage of time to successive revelations 
At the core is unchanging understanding. 

Hung (signing off): "It is here, mow." A declamation 
of belief of the chanter in the words. It also prefaces the 
"Om" or beginning of the new chant cycle, although in 
a long sequence of such short chants, all words follow 
their predecessors This is the reminder mnemonic of 
implicate time; all events are present now, and forever 
repeated in their form 

DORJE, or Dorje-chang. is the Tibetan Buddha- 
figure who holds the dor/e (thunderbolt), represented 
as a radiant stone which symbolises cosmic energy 
Dorje is "the primordial Buddha of Tibet", who began 
the great succession of current and past reincarnations. 
His colour is blue, for eternity, and he may carry a bell 
to signify the voiceless wisdom of the inanimate, or the 
sound of the void. 

Dorje is an allcr ego of Thor of the Norsemen, Durga 
of the Hindu, and of thunderbolls and "thunderers" of 
other tribal peoples The muni or stone of Thor was 
Mjollnir, his hammer. Irom which derives Mjoll- 
nirstaun. and (eventually) Mollison (by way of 
invasions into Scotland, and migrations). Thus, even 
our own names may remind us of the essential oneness 
of the events and beliefs around us. 

We can choose from tribal chants, arts, and folk 
decoration many such mnemonic patterns, which in 
their evolution over the ages express very much the 
same world concept as does modern physics and 
biology Such thoughtful and vivid beliefs come close 
lo realising the actual nature of the observed events 
around us, and are derived from a contemplation of 
such events, indicating a way of life and a philosophy 
rather than a dogma or set of measures 

Beliefs so evolved precede, and transcend, the 
emphasis on the Individual, or the division of life into 
disciplines and categories. When we search for the 
roots of belief, or more specifically meaning, we come 
again and again to the one-ness underlying science, 
word, song, art, and pattern. 'The jewel in the heart of 
the lotus". 
Thus we see lhat many world beliefs share an 



Mjj two core models make up n-.e ocouf Each it dtttclatny h>gher 
MR, oi low/ thin, the other Onglns he ncai the pol«s. and when ihe 
comments are re-assembled « have one gieal conlinenl and one 
great sea 

difference has a more or less well defined BOUNDARY 
CONDITION, surface, or interface to other media or 
systems. Permacullure itself acts as a translator between 
many disciplines, and brings together information from 
several areas It can be described as a framework or 
pattern into which many forms of knowledge are fitted 
in relation to each other Permacullure is a synthesis of 
diffcrenl disciplines 

Any such boundary is at times between, at times 
within, media, and (as in the case of Ihe earth/air 
surface) these boundaries, surfaces, or perceptible 
differences present a place lor things lo happen, for 
riienii to locate. Thus, boundaries present an oppor- 
tunity for us to place a rranslalory element in a design 
or lo deform the surface for specific flow or translation 
to occur. 

If the media are in gaseous or liquid form, or com- 
posed of mobile particles Uke a crowd of people, swarm 
of flies, water, or dust clouds, then Ihe media are 
themselves capable of flow and deformation 

In nature, many such media and boundaries can be 
distinguished As one example, a pond (with part of its 
margin) is shown in Figure 4.6. 

Although differently named (or not nomed at all), all 
these surfaces, edges, and boundaries separate different 
media, ecological assemblies, physical states, or flow 
conditions. Every boundary has a unique behaviour 
and a translation potential. Living iranslators (trees 
fish, molluscs, water striders) live at each and every 


boundary We can see that Ihe establishment of complex 
boundary conditions is another primary strategy for 
generating complex life assemblies and energy 

"Most biologists," (says Vogel. 1981) "seem to have 
heard of the boundary layer, but they have a fuzzy 
notion that it is a discrete region, rather than the du 
crele notion that it is a fuzzy region * 

Boundary /Edoe Design Strategy 

The crealbn of complex boundary conditions is a basic 

design slralegy for creating spatial and temporal niches 



Boundaries are commonplace In nature. Media ore 
variously liquid, gaseous, or solid, in various stales of 
Row or movement. They have very different inherent 
characteristics, such as relatively holler, more acid, 
rough, harder, more absorbent, less perforated, darker, 
and so on. Even in abstract terms, society divides itself 
In terms of sex. age, culture, language, belief, 
disciplines, and colour (just to enumerate a few 
perceived differences). 

In this confusion of definitions, social and physical, 
we can make one statement with certainly People 
discriminate (in its true meaning, of detecting a 
difference) between a great many media or systems, and 
therefore recognise boundary conditions or "sorts", 
enabling them to define like and unlike materials or 
groups in terms of a large number of specific criteria 

Differences, whether in nature or society, set up a 
potential STRESS CONDITION This may demonstrate 
itself as media boundary disturbances, friction, shear, or 
turbulence caused by movement, sometimes violenl 
chemical reactions, powerful diffusion forces, or social 
disruption. Seldom do two different systems come in 
contact without a boundary reaction of one sort or 
another, as quiet as rust, as noisy as political debate, or 
as lethal as war. 

If we concentrate our attention on Ihe boundary 
condition, there are, crudely, two common or possible 
motions or particle flows— ALONG or ACROSS 
boundaries In longitudinal Rows (shear lines) between 
media, deflections and turbulence may be caused by 
local friction or the more cosmic Coriolus (spin) force 
In crossing a boundary between media. Ihe surfaces 
themselves may resist invaders (chemical or social), or 
various nets, sieves, or criteria may have to be 
by -passed by a potential invader. 

However, these boundaries are. in nature, often very 
rich places for organisms to locate, for at least these 

• Particles may naturally accumulate or deposit Ihcre 
(the boundary itself acts as a net or blockade) 

• Special or unique niches are available In space or 
time wilhm the boundary area itself 

• The resources of Ihe two (or more) media systems 
are available al Ihe boundary or nearby. 

Special physical, social, or chemical conditiorxs exist 
on Ihe boundary, because of the reaction between the 
adjacent media. As all boundary conditions have some 
fuzzy depth, they constitute a third media (the media of 
Ihe boundary zone itself). 

litis last statement is especially true of diffusive or 
flowing media, and of turbulent effects. Turbulence, in 
effect, creates a mi* of the two or more media which 
may itself form another recognisable medium (e.g. foam 
on water, an emulsion of oil and water) 

In our world of constant events, especially in Ihe 
living world, more events occur al boundaries than 
occur elsewhere, because of these special conditions or 
differences It is common to find that there are more 
different lypes of living species at any such boundary or 
edge than there are within the adjoining system or 
medium. Iluundaries lend to be species-rich. 

Thla "edge effect" is an important factor In 
permacullure It is recognised by ecologists that the 
interface between Iwo ecosystems represents a third, 
more complex, system which combines both Al 
interfaces, species from both systems can exist, and In 
many cases the boundary also supports its own species 

Gross photosynthetic production is higher at inter faces 
For example, the complex systems of land /ocean 
interface — such as estuaries and coral reefs— show the 
highest production per unit are., of any of the major 
ecosystems (Kormondy, E.J., 1959, Concepts of Ecology, 
Prentice Hall, NJ, USA) 

Forest/pasture interlaces show greater complexity 
lhan either system in both producers (plants) and 
consumers (animals). It seems that the Tasmanian 
Aborigines burnt forest to maintain a large interface of 
forest/plain, since these transitional areas provided a 
great variety and amount of food. Animals are found in 
greater numbers on edges, for example, and a fire 
mosaic landscape is rich in species. Such mosaics were 
the basis of Australian Aboriginal landscape 

In view of the edge effect, it seems worthwhile to 
increase interface between particular habitats to a 
maximum. A landscape with a complex edge mosaic is 
inleiesting and beautiful; il can be consideied Ihe basis 
of Ihe art of productive landscape design. And most 
certainly, increased edge makes for a more stimulating 
landscape. As designers we can also create harmonic 
edge with plants, water, or buildings. 

There are aspects of boundaries that deserve con- 



Wt can distinguish between many conditions or loans ol media (air 1 aii/watei 

i. aarth. mud), physical conditions (flow, heal, salinity), and we 4 tlowing/slill 

can manipulate ad|acinl systems (lorest. waler. crop, grassland. 1 anaerobic/subsoil 

gravels) lo produce landscapes rich In borders, hence species and 10 brackish/salty 

niches 12cilchinenl/calchmenl 

2 liesrwbcactish 3 warm/tool 

S grass/water 6 marsh/water 

I soil/subsoil 9 stream/Dank 

I I stream order/sub order 

13 lorest/waler 14 walet'mud 


dialects specific to certain headlands, we can achieve 
similar insights if our ear for bird dialect is trained, so 
that song and postural signals from other species make 
a rich encyclopaedia ol a world that is unnoticed by 
those who lack pattern knowledge People who can kill 
by inducing fibrillation in heart nerves have a practical 
insight into pulser stress induction; many tribespeople 
can induce such behaviour in other animal species, or 
in people (voodoo or "singing") 

The attempts of tribal shamans lo foresee the future 
and to control dreams or visions by sensory depriva- 
tion, to read fortunes by smoke, entrails, waler, or the 
movement of serpents, or to study random scatters of 
bones or pebbles are not more peculiar lhan our efforts 
lo do the same by the study of ihe distribution of 
groups of measures or Ihe writhing of lines on 
computer screens. By subjecting ourselves lo Isolation, 
danger, and stress, we may pass across Ihe folds of 
time and scan present and future while we maintain 
these "absent" slates, as described by Dunn (1921) in 
his Experiment with rime, and as related by participants 
in the sun dances of the Shoshone nation As we 
drown, or fall from cliffs, our lives "pass before our 
eyes" (we can see Ihe past and future) 

We need lo think more on these older ways of 
imparting useful or traditional information, and of 
keeping account of phenomena so that Ifiry arc 
■Mt'lnMr lo all people Number and alphabet alone will 
not do this. Pattern, song, and dance may be of great 
assistance to our education, and of great relevance lo 
our life; they are ihe easiest of things to accurately 

Apparently simple patterns may encode complex 
information. There may be no better example than lhal 
of the Anasazi spiral, with 19 intercepts on ils "horizon" 
"horizon" line (Figure 4.28) This apparently simple 
spiral form is inscribed on a rock surface near Ihe top 
of a mesa in desert country in the southwest USA. 
Three rock slabs have been carefully balanced and 
shaped, as gnomons which casl moon-shadows or (by 
Iheir curvature) direct vertical daggers of sunlight lo 
the points of Ihe spiral The 19 points at which Ihe 
spiral intersects the horizonlal axis are those al which 
Ihe shadow of the moon is casl by a gnomon on Ihe 
spiral, and indicate Ihe moon elevation or 19-year 
(actually 18.6) cycle caused by Hie sway of the earths 

Thus, one simple spiral records lunar and solar 
cycles for the regulation of planting, the liming of 
ceremonies, and (as modern science has just realised), 
the prediction of Ihe 19-year (18.6 year) cycle of 
drought and flood. A very simple pattern encodemenl 
thus represents a practical long-term calendar for all 
people who live nearby. The Anasazi culture is extinct, 
and only a persislenl investigation by Anna Soaer (an 
artist with intuitive observational skills) has revealed 
the significance of this arrangement Scientists have 
often doubled the capacity of tribal peoples lo pattern 
such long-term and complex evenls, which in terms of 
our clumsy alphabetical and numerical symbols are not 

FIGURE 4.28 

A pelroglyph (rock carving) ol Ihe Anaslast Indians (North Annua) 
lorms a long term calendai ot sun and moon cycles 

only forgettable, but would lake a small library to 
encode. The knowledge so presented is available lo 
very few (ABC TV Science programme, Australia, 20th 
January '84). However, wherever tribes remain intact. 
there are many such sophisticated pallern-mcanings 
still intact, all as complex and information-dense 

In the complex of time-concepts evolved by 
Australian Aborigines, only one (and Ihe least 
important) is the linear concept lhal we use lo govern 
our life and time Of far greater everyday use was 
phenomenoiogical (or phenological) time; the time as 
given not by clocks, but by Ihe life-phenomena of 
flowers, birds, and weather An example from real life 
is that of an old Pit|atjant(ara woman who pointed out 
a small desert (lower coming into bloom. She lold me 
that the dingoes, in the ranges of hills far lo the north, 
were now rearing pups, and that it was time for their 
group lo leave for the hills to collect these pups 
Thousands of such relationships are known lo tribal 
peoples. Some such signals may not occur in 100 or 500 
years (like the flowering of a bamboo), but when il 
does occur, special actions and ceremonies are 
indicated, and linked phenomena are known 

Finally, in tribal society, one is not wise by years but 
by degree of revelation. Those who understand 'and 

baskets Many patterns have sophisticated meaning, 
■ltd almost all have a series of songs or chants 
associated with them. Tribal art. including the (onns of 
Celtic and ancient engraving have a pattern complexity 
that may have had important meanings to their 
peoples. We may call such people illiterate only if we 
ignore their patterns, songs and dances as a valid 
literature and as an accurate recording system 

Having evolved number and alphabetical symbols, 
we have abandoned pattern learning and recording in 
our education. I believe this to be a gross error, because 
simple patterns link so many phenomena that the 
learning of even one significant pattern, such as the 
model elaborated on in this chapter, is very like 
learning an underlying principle, which is always 
applicable to specific data and situations 

The Maori of New Zealand use tattoo and carved 
patterns to record and recall genealogical and saga 
information. Polynesians used pattern maps, which 
lacked scale, cartographic details, and trigonometric 
measures, but nevertheless sufficed to find 200-2.000 
island specks in the vastness of the Pacific! Such maps 
are linked to star sets and ocean currents, and indicate 
wave interference patterns; they are made of slicks, 
flexed strips, cowries, and song cycles (Figure 4.26) 

Pitjantjatjar* people of Australia sing over sand 
patterns (Figure 4.17), and are able to "sing" strangers 
to a single slone in an apparently featureless desert 
Many of their designs accurately reflect the lobular 
shapes and elaborate micro-elevations of the desert, 
which are nevertheless nchly embroidered by changes 
in vegetation, and are richly portrayed in what (to 
Westerners) appears as abstract art. Some pattern 
mosaics are that of fire, pollen, or the flowering stages 
of a single plant, others are of rain tracks and cloud 
streets, and yet others involve hunting, saga, or 
climatic data. 

Children of many tribes are taught hundreds of 
simple chants, the words of which hide deeper, 
secondary meanings about medicinal, sacred, or 
navigational knowledge All this becomes meaningful 
when the initiate is given the decoding system, or finds 
it by personal revelation (intuition) A pattern map 
may have little meaning without its song keys to 
unlock that meaning. Initiation can also unlock 
mnemonic patterns for those who have a first clue as to 

Dances, involving muscular learning and memory, 
coupled with chants, can carry accurate long-term 
messages, saga details, and planting knowledge. Many 
dances and chants are in fact evolved from work and 
travel movements. Even more interesting are the 
dance-imitations of other animal species, which in fact 
interpret for people the postural meanings of these 
species, although in a non-verbal and univers- 
ally-lransmiltable way We may scarcely be aware that 
many of our formal attitudes of prayer and submission 
are basic imilialions of primate postures, for the most 
part taken Irom other species. Even the chair enables 
us (as it did the Egyptians) to maintain the postures of 

FIGURE 4. 27 


A song map of the Pil)il|anluii woman Such lorms closely resemble 

desert ciaypans if the long ails is regarded is a how aula, and the 

zones as lobular vegetation 

baboons, and baboons were revered as gods and 
embalmed by the Egyptian chair-makers We can 
remember hundreds of songs, postures, and chants, but 
little of prose and even less of tabulated data. 

Anne Cameron {Daughttrt of Copper Woman. 
Vancouver Press, 1981) wriles of song navigation in the 
Nootka Indians of British Columbia. There was a song 
for goin' to China, and a song for goin' to Japan, a song 
for the big island and a song for the smaller one. All 
she Ithe navigatorl had to know was the song and she 
knew where she was..." 

The navigation songs of the women on canoe 
voyages record "the streams and creeks of the sea"— the 
ocean currents, headlands and hays, star constellations, 
and "ceremonies of ecstatic revelation". From California 
to the Aleutians, the sea currents were fairly constant 
in both speed and direction, and assisted the canoes 
The steerswomen used the (very accurate) rhythm of 
the song duration to time both the current speed and 
the boat speed through the water. Current speed would 
be (I presume) timed between headlands, and boat 
speed against a log or float in the water. The song 
duration was, in fact, an accurate riming mechanism. 
as it can be for any of us today. 

Song stanzas are highly accurate timers, accurate 
over quite long periods of lime, and of course re- 
producible at any lime. The song conltnl was a record 
of the observations from prior voyages, and no doubt 
was open to receive new data. 

People who can call the deer (Paiule wise men), the 
dolphin (Gilbert Islanders), the kangaroo (tribal 
Tasmanians) and other species to come and present 
themselves for death had profound behavioural, 
interspecific, "pulser" pattern-understanding. Just as 
the Eskimo navigated, in fog. by listening to the quail 


siderable design intervention: 

• The geometry or harmonics of any particular edge; 
how we crenellale the edge. 

• Diffusion of the media across boundaries (this may 
make either a third system or a bioader area in which to 
operate— few boundaries are very strictly defined) 

• Effects which actively convey material to or across 
boundaries; in nature, these are often living organisms 
or flow (l>ces, for example). 

• The compatibility (or allelopathy) of species or 
elements brought into proximity by edge design. 

• Boundaries as accumulators on which we can 
collect mulch or nutrients 



The amplitude, configuration, and periodicity of an 
edge, surface, or boundary may be varied by design. 

'Ke/lrou»' fkTIBOIS 
pot »***/M. oMseuS 

ACUMfciit ■Srnt*- *nTi»j 
*«*CM *T»e «Sn«nnt«c 

vtT^CiAa, rs_oP. 

W.KICP tW«Lc£e« 


least path" design lor home gardens, a keyhole pattern (common in 
natural allows us to access gaiden beds mosl el'iciemly Parallel 
MM lake i up i lo 50% of in. area, keyhole bans <30% of the ground 
(See also fIGURE 10 76 Gangamma's Mandala) 

Edges and surfaces may be sinuous, lobular, serrate, 
notched, or deliberately smoothed for more efficient 
flow. While we may deliberately induce turbulence in 
salmon streams by using weirs, we are painstaking in 
using smooth and even conduits lor energy generation 
in wind or hydraulic systems We can deepen areas ol 
shallow streams lo make pools, or lo prevent stream 
bank erosion, or lo reflect sun energy lo buildings; all 
these are manipulated to achieve specific effects on their 
boundaries or surfaces. 

Notched or lobular edges, such as we achieve in plan 
by following hill contours, afford sheltered, welter, 
drier, holler, or more exposed micro-habitats for a 
variety of species. Serrate or zig-zag fences not only 
stand on their own, but resist wind-throw much better 
than straight barriers. Lobular embayments. like the 
keyhole beds of Figure 4.7, are obviously sheltered, 
spacious habitats for gardens and settlements. 

As for surface and now phenomena, we can partition 
waler surfaces lo reduce wind effect, or design lo 
deliberately create turbulence and wind overturn 
Islands, quoins, and rafts of many shapes have as many 
uses, and deflect flow lo increase condensation or lo 
encourage sand and snow deposition or removal 
Surfaces can be pitied, ridged, spiralled, mounded, 
tessellated, tassled with plants or brush, paved, sprayed 
lo stabilise mulch, mulched, or smoothed for water 

V-l /l e W ie; atfcafe 


'2X'**J±tJy aiatb 

A B 



Wilhoul altering the area ol a field and a pond, we can double the 
plants on the pond-edge (e g blueberries) by crenellilmg litis edge lo 
Increase tin earth/waler interlace 

When a boundary separates two things which differ, 
there is an opportunity for trade, transactions, or 
translation across the border Where the boundary itself 
is difficult to pass, where it represents a trap or net. or 
where the substances and objects attempting to pass 
have no ability lo do so. accumulations may occur at the 
boundary Examples of this lie all about us, as stranded 
shells on the beach, people lined up at visa offices, and 
cars at slop lights or kcrbsides 

People are, al heart, slrandlopers and beach combers; 
even our dwellings pile up at Ihe junction of sea and 
land, on estuaries (80% of us live at water edges), and al 
Ihe edge of lores!, river, marsh, or plain. Invariant 
ecologies may attract Ihe simple- minded planner, but 


they will not attract people as inhabitants or explorers 

In design, we can arrange our edges to net, stop, or 
sieve-through animals, plants, money, and influence. 
However, we (ace the danger of accumulating so much 
trash that we smother ourselves in it Translators keep 
flow on the move, thereby changing the world and 
relieving it of its stresses. The sensible translator posses 
cm resources and information to build a new life system. 

There are innumerable resources in flow Our work as 
designers is to make this (low (unction in our local 
system before allowing it to go to other systems. Each 
function carried out by in(ormahon (low builds > local 
resource and a yield. 

If you now carefully observe entry natural 
aaumulatian of particles, you will find they lie on edges, 
or Miri.ii.e-, or scattered nearby, like brush piled up 
against a fence (Figure 4.9) We can use these processes 
to gather a great variety of yields 

It follows that edges, boundaries, and interfaces have 
rich pickings, from trade both ways or from constant 
accumulations. Our dwellings and activities benefit 
from placement at edges, so that designing differences 
into a system is a resource-building strategy, whereas 
smoothing out differences or landscapes a deprivation 
of potential resources 

Objects in transit can be stopped by filters and nets. 
The edges of forests collect the aerial plankton that pass 
in the winds. Boundaries may accumulate a special 
richness o( resource, as a coral ree( collects the oxygen 
and energy of the sea, and the canopy o( the trees the 
energy of the wind We rely on translators, such as trees 

and coral, to store such impalpable resources, to process 

them into useful products, and to store them lor use in 
their own system, with some surplus (or our essenhal 

Transactions at boundaries are a great part ol trade 
and energy changes in life and nature It seems that 
differences make trade: that every medium seeks to 
gather in those things it lacks, and which occur in the 
other medium However, we should also look at the 
translator, which is often o( neither medium but a thing 
in ilstlf. the "connection or path between', created from 
the media, but with its own unique characteristics. 

Planls, people, and pipes are translators Nets, sieves, 
passes, and perforations are openings for translators to 
use. and (as traders know) there is no border so tight 
that a way does not exist for trade. Go-betweens or 
traders, like many plants and animals, are creatures ol 
the edge. They seek to relieve the stresses caused by loo 
much or loo little in one place or another; or to 
accumulate resources (make dillerences) i( they operate 
as storages. We can use naturally-occurring turbulence, 
trade, and accumulations to work (or us, and by 
care(ully observing, find the nets and go-betweens o( 
use. We can use naturally-occuring turbulence, trade, 
and accumulations to work for us. and by carefully 
observing, find the nets and go-betweens of use 


PtulfVni AND «&*» 

A.-..M.W »!'.■> I «IM 

fCC MMuiAtFotJs or *r«w ""rvMaiev/eeo" fl>ep 


At powerhnes and fences, perched inrushes and wood pigeons 

defecate, so that each post gains seed and manure, and each may 

generate I plant liom nearby forests Perches plus disturbed soil 

produce this result, fences also act as mulch accumulators across 




There are only limited interactions possible between 
two abstract or real systems brought into boundary 
contact The sum of possible effects available are these: 

• No diflerence in yields, stability, or growth (0,0) 

• One benefits, at the expense ol the other (+,-) (-,*■) 

• Both benefit (».♦) 

• Both are decreased in yield or vitality (-.-) 

• One benefits, the other is unaffected (»,o) (o,») 

• One is decreased, the other is unaffected (-.0) (o,-) 
Almost all organisms or systems get along line. A 

great many derive mutual benefit, and a very lew 
decrease the yield of others or wipe each other out. It 
simply doesn't pay to attack others. In the long run one 
destroys onesell by accumulated injury or, more 
certainly, by pathogens in an animal or condicts within 
a society that await a mouocultural crop or repressive 
society. For our domestic plant groups, a powerful 
design strategy lor yield and system stability is to select 
compatible components for complex edge and surface 

Many crops, like wheat and pulse grains, trees which 
bear on the crown, and mass planted vegetable species, 
yield much better on the crop edge llian they do within 
the crop. Taking examples where edge yield is marked 
(e.g. in wheat, lucerne); where there Is a (+,+) 


by, people 

A far more sensible approach was developed by 
Hawaiian villagers, who look natural ridgelincs as 
their boundaries As the area was contained in one 
water catchment, they thus achieved very stable and 
resource-rich landscapes reaching from dense 
cloud -forests to the outer reefs ol their islands The 
nature of conic and radial volcanic landscapes with 
their radial water lines suits such a method of land 
division It is also possible for a whole valley of people 
to maintain a clean catchment, store and divert 
mid-slope water resources for their needs, catch any 
lost nutrients in shallow ocean enclosures (converting 
first to algae, then to crabs and fish), and thus lo 
preserve the oflshore reef area and the marine 
environment. Zulus and American Indians adopt Ihe 

circular or zonal modes in their plains settlements. 

Such models can be studied and adopted by future 
(bioregional) societies as sane and caring people 
become the majority in their region, and set about the 
task of landscape rehabilitation Sensible land division 
is a long-delayed but essential precursor 10 a stable 



As I travel about the world. I find tribal peoples using 
an enormous variety of traditional patterns These 
decora le weapons, houses, skin, and woven textiles or 

FIGURE 4.26 



• LbCJulmaflMfi Ungs lo lime Ihe log line, and leels lor current 
"•MOons "»ough his steering oar lie or she sings lo lecord Ihe 
stages ol Ihe |ourney and Ihe Vrveis" (cuirenls) ol Ihe sea 

• Lookouts. nole sUr patterns, bud flight, cloud trains or lighl re 
MM from coastal laooons Waler speed is recorded by a knotted 
ttoat line 

• rUKilledJlsleflej l« a "black box" near Ihe keel listens lo wave 
leliaclion Irom Ihe hull, predicls slorms or islands Irom wave periods 
limed by chants 

• (LMylfliiBj consults 1 voyage 'charr of nicks and cowries 
I reptes enling Ihe Inlerac llon ol phenomena and sings Ihe navig allon 

songs for speeds search patterns, and an assistant lodges solar and 
slar elevations (latitude) via a waler level 

• Al niQhJ. ihe glow ol Me lorms in deep sea trenches is awailed (Ihe 
lightning- Irom Ihe deeps'), bird song and echoes Irom headlands are 
listened tor, and Ihe phusphoiescenl glow ol Ihe loresls ashore is 

" fill tiiieiiejictlLman towers his testicular sac into Ihe sea lo 
accoralely guage waler mass temperature 

• IfiertBl carries a variety ol seems Irom foresls. rock lichen, bird 
colonies, and fish schools, all are recorded 

• Ajifl calches indicator organisms related lo Ihe walei mass and 
near shores a lead line", or depth line, is used lo find banks and 
sample bottom fauna picked up In soft grease. 

• A-JBrstlLol catoU may be used lu predict rain or lo Hnd Ihe sun on 
overcast days by poUiisalion ol lighl-the ludBslone' ol navigalors 


and flow has enabled me ii> bring lo consciousness (he 
unity o( all things, anil the enfolded nature of Nature. 
In the matter of genealogy we can become conscious of 
ourselves in the lime and pattern stream, and it is 
startling lo realise that (as origin) we "determine", or 
lather define and are delimit by, our ancestry as much 
as we define and are defined by our descent. We do not 
doubt our physical connection lo either ancestry or 
descent. It is the sense of 'all are present here" that is 
revealed by pattern: lo be encapsulated in, and a 
pervading pari of. a personal genealogical pattern 
which is itself a result of a pattern of innumerable 

Patterns tell us thai all Is streams, all particles, all 
waves. Each defines Ihe olher. Il (ells us that all is one 
plan. Although we find il difficult to see pattern in all 
Ihe plan, it is there. We are Ihe universe attempting lo 
define its processes A Kalahari bushman would say 
we are the dreams of a dreamer. What 1 (eel we can 
never define is substance (except as process; this is all il 
may be). We can only know a few local patterns, and 
thus have some weak predictive capacity. It is Ihe 
pattern that our local patterns cannot know thai will 
surprise us, the strike of cosmic lightning from an 
unguessed source or stress. 

Finally, pattern understanding can only contribute to 
the current and continuing evolution o( new world 
views based on Ihe essenlial one-ness of all 
phenomena Lovelock (1979) has perhaps best 
expressed thai combinalion of scientific insights and 
older tribal beliefs which assert (he interdependence o( 
animate and inanimate events The universe, and this 
ear(h, behave as self-regulaling and self- generated 
constructs, very much akin lo a single organism or a 
thought process. 

The conditions which make life possible are balanced 
about such fine tolerances it seems close lo 
certainty that many processes exist just to preserve this 
equilibrium in its dynamic stability. 

From the point of view of biologists. Birch and 
Cobb's The Liberation of Life 11984; see a review by 
Warwick Fox in The Bcpfagtt 14(4)1 denies the validity 
of the existence of individual organisms or separate 
events; all exist in a field of such events or as an 
expression of one life force. Organisms such as 

ourselves exist only as an inseparable part ot our event 
environments, and are in continual process of exchange 
with the animate and inanimate entities that surround 
us. We ate acted upon and acting, created and creating, 
shaped and shaping. Fox asserts, as I have here, that 
"we must view Ihe cosmos as an infinite complex of 
interrelated events"; all things "are in actuality 
enduring societies of events " 

Theoretical physicists (Capra, 1976) con(ribule to 
such world views, all of which are in conflict with the 
current ethics that govern political, educational, and 
economic systems, but all of which are contributing lo 
an increasing effort to unify and cooperate in a 
common ethic of earth-care, without which we have no 
meaning lo the universe. 



There are two aspects lo patterning: the perception of 
Ihe patterns that already exist and how these function, 
and the imposition of pattern on sites in order lo 
achieve specific ends Doth are skills of sophisticated 
design, and may result in specific strategies. Ihe 
harmonious resolution of problems, or work to 
produce a local resource. Given that we have absorbed 
some of the information inherent in Ihe general pattern 
model, we need some examples of how such 
patterning has been applied In real-life situations. 

A bird's-eye view of centralised and disempowered 
societies will reveal a strictly rectilinear network of 
streets, (arms, and property boundaries K is as though 
we have patterned Ihe earth to suit our survey 
instruments rather than lo serve human or 
environmental needs. We cannot perhaps blame Euclid 
for this, but we can blame his followers. The 
straight-line patterns that result pievent most sensible 
landscape planning strategies and result in neither an 
aesthetically nor functionally satisfactory landscape or 
streetscape. Once established, then entered into a body 
of law, such inane (or insane) patterning is stubbornly 
defended But it is created by. and can be dismantled 







'drip splash' lonns resemble volcanic 

fbfJT of 


: 'S0<§ 

■■ *■'" \ 

. './"» 

\ ftMSJIUS FuxX£S 

for Jr 

Percussion and pressing Hiking produce typical patterns 
or cherl tools shaped by stone workers. 

in obsidian 


relationship, as is the case of crops such as wheat and 
lucerne (alfalfa); and presuming a two-fold yield 
increase on edges (il can be more for such trees as 
Felicias with hazelnuts), we can proceed as follows. 

First, we need lo measure just how far into each crop 
Ihe edge effect extends, so that we can estimate a finite 
width of higher yield We will assume 1 m for wheat 
and Ihe same for lucerne, giving a 2 m width as a 
double edge II is now quite feasible to sow a field in 2 
m wide alternate strips of each crop, giving us (in 
effect) nothing but edge, and obuining from this field 
about the same yield as we would have had we sown 
twice Ihe area to single crop stands (Figure 4.10). 

Two crops are a simple example, but if we extend the 
principle to many and varied crops on an even broader 
scale, we approach a new concept of growing, which 
we can call ZONE or EDGE CROPPING. These would 
produce a matrix of hedgerows or edge-rows, each 
suited in width lo a particular crop. Such zonal strips 
are seen naturally occurring on coasts and around 
saltpans or walerholes. 

This sort of setup might be a nightmare for Ihe 
bulk-cropper (or il may not), but has immense 
potential for small shareholders in a single land trust, 
each of whom tend one or more crop strips II is very 
like the older patterns of French-intensive agriculture 
and the farmed strips of modern Quebec, which 
produce a very productive crop mosaic Polycullures 
can be composed of such mosaics or zonal strips. 

For cases of (-.-) interactions, both crops suffer, bul 
active intervention with a component acceptable to 
both systems may work: 

Place an Intervening, miiltoally-compalible component 
between two Incompatible systems. 

Compatible components may simply differ in sex. 
colour, chemistry, belief, or political conviction from 
the warring parties However, in time a beneficial 
mosaic will impose itself on all expansionist systems, 
arising from Ihe potential lor differences carried wiflrrn 
all life systems. Natural interveners arise, often as 
hybrids between apparently antagonistic systems Our 
design intention in landscape systems is to build 
interdependence into motaia.. 

Select and place components so thai incompatibly is 
nullihed, interdependence maximised. 

After all. in Ihe absence of tigers, Hindus nerd 
Muslims to eat cows; they may also need a Christian 
businessman between them lo effect the transaction. 
The interdependence of mosaics of belief are called for 
as much as mosaics of plants 

The stupidity principle may here be staled in a 
different way; 

Stupidity is an attempt lo iron out all differences, and 
nol lo use or value Ihern creatively. 

II is our skill in organising spatial or functional 
distribution that m»y create beneficial 
interdependence in incompatible components. When 
we know enough lo be able to select mutually- 
beneficial assemblies of plant and animal species 

LfteKwe. 5w/Fu>«e«5 corn •> bcams Hwey 

FIGURE 4.10 


fields ol equal area, plants al Ihe same rnler-row and In-line spacing 
but In (A) we can lit 36 plants. In (B) 45 plants •Slraighlness' can 
reduce yields Modern machines are available that follow such palhs 
in crop, or Ihe pattern can be on a larger scale 


A- S^t-Hl, 

(guilds) then we have two powerful interactive 
strategies (edge harmonics and species compatibility) 
for design applications. 

Mosaic design (the opposite ol monoculture) means 
the creation of many small areas ol differences. A lew 
mistakes will occur, but good average benefit will 
result This was the tribal strategy 

A Golden Rule ol Design 

Keep il small, and keep il varied. 

Our tree model is not only different from its supporting 
media, but exists btcaust of them. Stress builds because 
of impermeable boundaries. If a fence allows mice 
through but restricts rabbits, il is the rabbit plague that 
will break it down If too much money accumulates on 
one side of a door it will either force the door open of 
itself, or those deprived ol il will break in. The terrible 
pressures that gases and molecules can exert are 
harmless only when that pressure is free to disperse, or 
where potentially destructive energies are quietly 
released where there are no boundaries, multiple 
translators, or stress relief mechanisms. 

Because the event Itself creates a third medium, it 
again sets up stress between itself and the media (Ml 
and M2) Il can be seen, therefore, that once any one 
difference of any soil, even an idea, exists anywhere, then it 
demands or creates conditions for the evolution of 
subsequent events. That first event itself became yet 
another difference, which in him needed translation, and 
so on. The process is self-complicating, continually 
creating ol itself all that follows, and all that continues. 
All is stress, or the relief of stress, and that stress and 
relief is located between existing differences. One 
dilference in the beginning was enough to generate the 
total range of subsequent events There are no "new" 
events, just a continual expression of all possible 
events, each arising Irom some recombination of 
preceding differences. There are no miracles, just a 



FIGURE 4.11 

DNA, coiled Mound a plus-lotus like 

a single pdlh 

i Ihe Robinson 

realisation of infinite possibilities. Any event has the 
potential to spawn all possible events. 

There ate no new orders ol events, just a discovery ol 
existing events 

Every event we can deled is a result ol a preceding 
event, and gives rise lo subsequenl events. 

Between all media, some DIFFUSION can take place. 
This is greatly enhanced by such phenomena as surface 
turbulence, wave overturn, temperature differences, 
and pressure differentials. Boundaries between 
diffusing media are blurred, often seasonally different 
or sporadic in occurrence, and always in flux. Plants 
give pollens and chemicals to air, and actively 
intervene in radiative, gaseous, liquid, and general 
energy transactions with the atmosphere. Between 
plant groups, leaf, root and mulch exudates diffuse as 
chemical messengers. Water is the "universal solvent" 
of substances diffusing through the earth's crust, in 
plant systems, and in the atmosphere. 

Diffusion is a quiet process operating on a broad 
front or over the entire surface of some media. It is 
analagous lo, but dilfers from, the active transport 
systems that we have called events or translators. 
However, once an evenl has occurred, it also uses 
dilfusive processes to gather or distribute materials, 
and thus events merely enlarge the total diffusive area 
available. A tree may have many acres of leaf, and 
evapo-lranspiration will then exceed evaporation al 
that place by a factor of forty or more We can grow 

many such trees on one acre, and thus increase the 
diffusion effect by factors of 1000 or more, so that 
gaseous exchange from leaves, and sugars in soils (or 
soil life) are both assisted by the trees 

4 I 8 


We can see how an event lakes place, but how is il 
shaped? Our bodies arise from the origin (O) of a 
zygote (a fertilised egg) on the surface of the uterus; 
the placenta is our root, the foetus the tree of our- 
selves. Animals are thus events broken free Irom the 
coiling connective cord or umbilical stem of their 
origins. Their evenhial shape is a pattern laid down or 
encoded by the DNA ol their cells, coiled as it is 
around a plus-torus like a nbbon around a doughnut 

When my son Bill was four, we were in the bath 
together, and he pointed to his toes. "Why are these 
toes?" he asked. 

"What do you mean?" I hedged. 

"Well, why don I they gel bigger and bigger or longer 
and longer? Why do they stop at being toes?" 

What limits size and growth? All flows pulse, 
whether they are blood, wind, water, lava, or traffic. 


Before it in lime lie lis ancestors, and alter il its 
progeny. Il lies on the plane betWMn past and future, 
and (like the seed) determines by its expression the 
forms of both, and is in turn determined by them Just 
as the stem of the tree now encapsulates its history as 
smaller and smaller growth rings, so universal time 
encapsulates the tree in its own evolutionary history. 
This is difficult to portray, and has more dimensions 
that we can illustrate on a page It is the basis of the 
Buddhist belief that all lime is enfolded of implicate in 
the present, and that current events are part of a total 
sequence, all ol which are enfolded in the present tree 
as ancestors, or siblings 

As we read this, we stand in tlie plane of the present; 
we are the sum of all our ancestors, and the origin of 
all our descendants. In terms of our model, we are at 
an ever-changing origin, located on the boundary of 
past and future. As well, we are spinning with the 
earth, spiralling with the galaxy, and expanding or 
contracting with the universe. As origins, we are on the 
move in time and space, and all these movements have 
a characteristic pulse rate. 

Our bodies contain the potential for fulure 
generations, awaiting the events of pairing to create 
their own future events. Like a seed origin burled in 
the tree stem, we are buried in the stem ol our siblings 
in a genealogy, whose branches thrive, die. and put 
forth new shoots and roots over lime. 

This is the case with all origins; they can all, even if 
ancienl, be located in this matrix If we know how lo 
reconstruct the tree, we can find the place of the seed 
and vice versa All rivers, erosion cells, and all glaciers 
originated, therefore, at the centra/ stem of their 
courses, and built their pattern both ways along the 
kinetic gradient of their flow Thus, in terms of the time 
dimension we see the present as the OKICIN of both 
the past and the future (located as it is in the centre ol 
our pattern). 

Designers can move sideways in the waves of lime 
(as a surfer on a wave-front), transporting seed from 
continent to continent, permitting natural or induced 
hybrid palms and legumes to weave an alternative 
future. Mankind is an active translator ol lile. and, of 
course, of death 

In all core models, including our own genealogy, the 
point where all the important action takes place is 
through the point of origin, which is always in the 
present. How we behave now may determine not only 
the future, but the past (and all time). Think ol that, 
and realise that you are really where it's at. no matter 
when you are! I find great personal meaning in the 
Australian aboriginal life ethic, and little enough 
comfort in any pie in-the-sky. If il is my actions which 
determine the sky, I want il lo be full ol life, and 1 
choose lo believe that I am part of all that action, with 
my own job to do in this life form, and other jobs to do 
in other phases 




I live in the crater of an ancient volcano, the caldera of 
which is in pari eroded by the sea. Trees rise from the 
soils, and birds nesl in them From the seeds and eggs 
in the trees arise new life forms. Great wind spirals 
sweep in Irom the west with almost weekly regularity, 
bearing the fractal forms of turbulent clouds and 
causing, in autumn and mid-summer, lightning and 

On this peninsula, the terminal volcanic cote stands 
fast, refracting waves to either side, and creating a 
pinched neck of sand which joins us to the mainland. 
The hills are stepped by successive sea-level changes, 
and record the pulses of long-term cycles and success- 
ions. Day follows night, and life follows death follows 

All of these phenomena are a unity of patterns long 
repeated and based on one master pattern, each one 
preparing for new evolutions and dissolutions. It is the 
number and complexity of such cycles that give us lile 
opportunities, and life is tlie only integrative force in 
this part of the universe. Let us respect and preserve it. 
An understanding (even a partial understanding) of 
the underlying patterns that link all phenomena cre- 
ates a powerful abstract tool for designers. Al any 
point in the design process, appropriate patterning can 
assist Ihe achievement of a sustainable yield from 
flows, growth forms, or information flux. Patterns 
imposed on constructs in domestic or village assemb- 
lies can result in energy savings, and satisfactory 
aesthetics and (unction, while sustaining those 
organisms inhabiting the designed habitat. 

Patterning is the way we frame our designs, the 
template into which we fit the information, entities, 
and objects assembled fiom oliservation. map overlays, 
the analytic divination of connections, and the selec- 
tion of specific materials and technologies. Il is this 
patterning thai permits our elements to flow and 
funclion in beneficial relationships. The pattern is 
design, and design is Ihe subject of permaculture. 

Bohm (1980) urges us lo go beyond regarding our- 
selves as interactive with each other and Ihe en- 
vironment, and to see all things as "projections of a 
single totality". As we experience this totality, 
incorporate new information, and develop our con- 
sciousness, we ourselves are fundamentally changed. 
To fail to take this into account must inevitably lead 
one to a serious and sustained confusion in all that one 
does " The word "implicate" in the title of Bohm s work 
comes from Ihe Latin "enfolded", and when we 
separate individuals, effects, or disciplines from this 
enfolded order, we must recognise only that we have 
part of the unknowable totality, not the truth itself 
There are no opposiles, just phases of the one 

For myself, and possibly for you if you lake up the 
study of patterns, the contemplation of the forms of life 

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